A father was killed by a driver who is may have been using laughing gas at the wheel of his van, a court has heard.
Rhys Hargreaves killed Garry Holmes, 36, in the head-on collision in Crowthorne, Berkshire, in May 2015.
He’s now been jailed for three years after admitting causing death by dangerous driving.
Firefighter Andy Sims, who was driving the van that Hargreaves crashed into, described how he had lost his best friend in the collision and hit out at him for failing to tell the truth.
Following the crash, 14 canisters of nitrous oxide and a burst balloon were found in Hargreaves’ vehicle.
A witness also saw him throwing cannisters and a device to fill balloons with the gas, prosecutor Kim Preston told the court.
However, when he was arrested, Hargreaves lied to police saying his vision had been blurred by a lorry that dumped water on his windscreen.
When it transpired that it had not rained that day and there were no puddles on the road he changed his story to say that his passenger was not wearing his seatbelt and had started fitting while sleeping.
Miss Preston told the court: ‘When Mr Sims spoke to the paramedic he wanted to know if the driver on the other side had had a heart attack or collapsed at the wheel as it was the only explanation behind losing control.
‘That was not the case. The defendant got straight out of his van, as did his passenger who suffered cuts to his head. His passenger said “what the f*** have you done?”.’
Speaking about the nitrous oxide canisters she added: ‘In the complete absence of an explanation from the defendant it may well have been that these objects caused the distraction.
‘Whether or not the defendant was trying to put a balloon on a canister or passing something to Mr Cain, we do not know. The Crown says it is a distinct possibility.’
Andy Sims told Hargreaves in court: ‘I have sympathy for you and your family but you showed no remorse and no compassion.
‘You won’t tell the truth about what caused the accident that night. Garry was a person I spoke to when life was difficult and he isn’t here anymore.’
Mrs Holmes told the court : ‘As a family, life will never be the same again.. Losing my soulmate… the loss is incomprehensible.
‘No more texts through the day, no more dinners together, no more sitting on the sofa watching films, no more arguing about whose turn it is to do the dusting.
‘Violet was 21 months old when he last put her to bed and tucked her in. He only saw one of her birthdays. Garry will never take her to school, walk her down the aisle or be her protector.
‘The loss for me is bad enough but for our daughter it will be utterly immeasurable. She asks me every day if she can have a cuddle with daddy and every single day I have to explain that she can’t. So far I’m on 565 days of telling her that.’
Hargraves, from Farnham, Surrey, was also banned from driving for five and a half years and given a month for possession of cannabis which police also found along with the notorious oxide canisters.